Tech leads stocks higher

A broad rally led by technology companies drove U.S. stocks sharply higher Monday, giving the S&P 500 its biggest increase since late January.

The latest gains also snapped a five-day losing streak for the benchmark index, which was coming off its worst weekly stumble this year.

Nvidia was the S&P 500’s strongest performer after agreeing to buy chipmaker Mellanox. Apple benefited from an analyst upgrade.

Investors drew encouragement from a report showing a slight increase in U.S. retail sales for January after a steep decline in December, and from new data showing a rebound in Chinese exports, said Tom Martin, senior portfolio manager with Globalt Investments.

The S&P 500 gained 40.23 points, or 1.5 percent, to 2,783.30. The Dow rose 200.64 points, or 0.8 percent, to 25,650.88. The Nasdaq composite, which is heavily weighted with technology stocks, jumped 149.92 points, or 2 percent, to 7,558.06. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies picked up 26.99 points, or 1.8 percent, to 1,548.88.

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